It happened in the middle of the night. One minute we were peacefully asleep and the next even the sheet hurt his foot too much to tolerate. At the time, neither of us were familiar with the symptoms of gout, even though we knew some of the risk factors. Now we know.
What is gout? When there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream the kidneys can’t filter all of it out. If this condition doesn’t right itself, crystals will begin to form. When they get too heavy to be moved by the bloodstream, they settle into joints. The usual first location for these crystals is the right big toe.
Many things can either cause or be related to this problem. Some of them are avoidable and others aren’t. Knowing the risks makes it easier to avoid the pain.
Age/Gender: Men are the most frequent gout victims. Women are usually safe until menopause. After that they have the same likelihood as men. Being over 65 is another risk factor and that’s with both genders.
Kidney Disease: Because the kidneys are responsible for filtering uric acid out of the blood it stands to reason that someone with kidney problems can develop issues with gout.
Diabetes: While the exact reason diabetics have gout and vice versa, one of the main theories is that circulation problems is the main contributing factor.
Thyroid Problems: Both too much and too little activity from the thyroid can cause high levels of uric acid in the blood stream. Low thyroid is a more common cause.
Psoriasis: As with diabetes an exact reason isn’t yet known, but the numbers prove that those with psoriasis are more likely to suffer from gout than those who don’t have the condition. The theory for this is based on cell turnover rate which then raises uric acid levels.
Weight: Being overweight puts a load on the kidneys which can mean less filtration. However, rapid weight loss and fasting are just about as bad. Losing weight with a sensible plan can reduce the risk of gout.
Food: Uric acid is formed with the breakdown of a component of protein called purine. Foods that are high in purine are most likely to increase gout risk. So are foods that contain fructose…especially high fructose corn syrup.
Medication: There are a lot of medications that pose a slight risk of gout. One of them is aspirin. If you take a combination of medications that can cause the issue, you are more likely to develop gout.
The most important thing is to talk to your doctor about these issues. Medications can be changed, a nutritionist can help you design a gout free diet and you may be able to lessen some of the unavoidable risk factors with diet and exercise.